How do you find the best insurance agent?

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Dear Insurance Adviser,
How do you check credentials of an insurance agent? And does it cost?
— Jo Ann

Dear Insurance Adviser,
How do I know if I’m dealing with a reputable insurance company, and who can review the policy for me?
— Michael

Dear Jo Ann and Michael,
Flat out, the most important insurance-buying decision you will make is the selection of your insurance agent or adviser. Your agent’s level of expertise can make or break you at claim time.

When you have to make a major claim, you’ll no longer care about whether you got a competitive rate. You’ll want to know only one thing: Is my claim covered? If you have an expert agent, chances are excellent that the answer will be yes.

The interesting thing is that the price of having an expert agent and a better-designed insurance program is a whopping zero dollars! All agents work on commission. A knowledgeable and capable agent is paid exactly the same percentage as an agent with little or no expertise.

People shop insurance the wrong way. They compare prices for the (wrong) coverage they currently have, and end up with whichever agent gave them the quote — usually not an expert.

The right way to shop for insurance is to look into the expertise of the agent first and then have the agent shop the right coverage for you. Don’t be concerned about the quality of the company your expert agent recommends.

How do you shop for an insurance agent? Referrals. Ask people who have good financial heads on their shoulders to refer you to their agents. Get two or three names and simply conduct interviews. Have the agents tell you how they’ll go about determining the coverage that’s right for you. You’ll know whether a particular insurance agent has the expertise you’re looking for before the interview is over.

If you want to check on a particular insurance company, go online to check the insurer ratings provided by A.M. Best Co. Make sure the company has a rating of A, A+ or A++.

Happy hunting!

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